Mexican Fajita Steak Salad is a combination of a cool crisp romaine with juicy steak and hot seared peppers and onions ~ it’s hard to beat. We’re making homemade fajita seasoning and homemade crunchy tortilla strips, too, so let’s get going!
we’re obsessed with fajita steak salad!
pull up a fork for #8 in my Main Course Salad Challenge
No collection of main course salads would be near complete without a great steak salad. And with Cinco de Mayo coming up, I figured a Mexican theme was in order. The combination of tender grilled steak with sweet peppers and onions, Mexican spices, and crunchy tortillas is really delish.
a tex-mex twist on steak salad
Fajitas are Tex-Mex in origin, dating back to the 1930s. It’s a classic recipe developed by Mexican cowboys working on the ranches of Texas, where they’d receive the lesser cuts of beef, like skirt steak, as part of their pay. Skirt steak inspired fajitas, which are tacos made with the seared steak, thinly sliced across the grain.
You’ll recognize fajitas as those platters of steak, peppers, and onions that come to your table flamboyantly sizzling and smoking in restaurants. The Mexican vaqueros would have cooked their meat over an open fire, and that intense sear is a large part of the flavor experience. During grilling season you can cook up your fajitas on a charcoal grill, but I’ll just do it in a super hot pan on the stove. Open up a couple of windows because it’s going to get smoking hot!
colorful peppers make beautiful fajitas
Is there anything better looking, or better tasting, than glossy seared peppers and onions? (Remember my Sheet Pan Peppers and Brats?) A quick hot searing softens them slightly, and brings out all their sweetness. The different colors of bell peppers really do have different flavors and levels of sweetness, so I love to mix them. Even regular supermarkets carry all colors now. I didn’t buy any green this time, but I wish I had, they provide a little bit of pleasant bitterness for balance. I sliced up a red jalapeño for extra heat, although my homemade fajita spice blend, below, packs some heat as well.
best steak for a fajita steak salad
I use a boneless ribeye steak for this salad. It’s juicy and slices perfectly. But you can use any boneless steak you love. Other options include strip steak, sirloin, flank, or skirt steak. You’ll need a sharp knife to slice it nice and thin.
fry your own crispy tortilla strips
For the crispy corn tortillas you can crush store bought or you can make your own, which I highly recommend. Just slice up a couple of corn tortillas (yellow or white,) heat some oil in a skillet, and fry them for a few minutes, stirring often, until they turn golden. Drain on paper towels and try to resist the urge to eat every last one before your salad is ready.
how to make homemade fajita seasoning
I use my own homemade fajita seasoning as a dry rub for the steak and a little bit more in the creamy dressing. It’s easy to make yourself, and so much fresher and better than store bought. I don’t know what the deal is with those packets, but they contain an insane amount of chemicals for something so simple.
- 2 tsp chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (or sweet if you prefer)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground oregano
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less for less heat)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
my fajita salad takes just 30 minutes
Just clean and prep your ingredients ahead of time. This allows you to sear the veggies and steak just before serving to get that lovely combination of cool crisp lettuce and hot sizzling fajitas.
Instead of a heavy meat and potatoes dinner, this yummy fajita salad really hits the spot and is so much better for us. And we still get to eat steak 😉
“This salad is SO GOOD. I will also be using your fajita blend in other recipes as well. Thanks for sharing it with us!” ~ ML
more main course salads to try
- Salmon Cobb Salad
- Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (balela salad)
- Shrimp Taco Salad
- Chopped Chef Salad with Creamy Sweet Onion Dressing
- Burger Salad Bowl
- Great Island Curried Chicken Salad Plate
- Spring Salad with Eggs and Creamy Tarragon Dressing
Mexican Fajita Steak Salad
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema sauce
- juice of 1 lime
- large handful fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp fajita seasoning
- pinch salt
- 7 ounces romaine hearts, or other crunchy lettuce
- 1 lb steak, I used boneless ribeye, but flank or skirt steak will work great. So will sirloin.
- olive oil
- 2 cups colorful bell pepper strips, about 2 peppers
- 1/2 red onion, cut in thin slices
- 1 ear yellow corn
- 1/4 cup black olives
- a few small or cherry tomatoes, halved or cut in wedges
- cilantro leaves
- sliced jalapeños
- To make the fried tortilla strips, slice the two tortillas in half and then into 1/4 inch strips.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and when it’s hot, add the tortilla strips. Fry them for a few minutes, stirring and flipping often, until they’re golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels and lightly season with salt.
- To make the fajita seasoning blend all the ingredients together well.
- To make the dressing put all into a small food processor and process until smooth. Taste to adjust anything.
- Pat the steak dry and rub on both sides with fajita seasoning. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet on high heat and when it is really hot, add the steak. Cook, on highest heat, for about 3 minutes per side, or until done the way you like it. Remove the steak and let rest under foil for 10 minutes.
- Wipe out the pan, add 1 more tablespoon oil, and, when it’s nice and hot, sear the onions. Remove to a plate and do the same with the peppers (no need to wipe the pan again.)
- If you have a gas stove blister the corn right over the flame, carefully holding it with tongs until the kernels start to pop and char. If you don’t have a gas burner, blister the corn in the hot skillet. Put the corn into the microwave for 2 minutes, just to take the raw edge off. Let cool until you can handle it, and then slice the kernels off the cob.
- Arrange the lettuce on the bottom of a large shallow salad bowl. Slice the steak against the grain into thin slices. Arrange the steak in the center of the salad, surrounded by the onions and peppers, corn, olives, tortilla strips, and tomatoes.
- Top with dressing, or serve the dressing on the side. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and sliced jalapeños.